Turns out, a popular medicine used for common allergy can prevent a severe disease’s relapse.
It has been found that cetirizine - common allergy medication - is safe, well-tolerated, and may reduce relapses in patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO).
NMO is a rare and severe disease that causes inflammation and demyelination - damage to the myelin, the protective coating of nerve cells - primarily in the optic nerve (optic neuritis), spinal cord (myelitis), and brainstem.
The study followed sixteen NMO patients, taking 10mg/day of orally administered cetirizine for one year.
Participants started taking cetirizine (10mg) orally daily and continued for one year, in addition to their established NMOSD disease-modifying therapy.
They were monitored for new neurologic episodes and potential adverse events related to the study drug. Formal relapse assessments, as well as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, were completed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
Current standard treatments for NMO have focused on lymphocytes; however, granulocyte infiltration has been shown to play an important role in the NMO-related inflammatory destruction. The study stated that Cetirizine is safe, well-tolerated, and may help prevent relapses in NMO. If given chronically, it may be able to prevent the activation and chemotaxis of eosinophils and other inflammatory cells, should the beginning of a relapse cascade occur.
However, a larger sample size with more frequent specimen collection would be required to determine this definitively, according to the report. The study was conducted by Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.